On the 4th of March 2018 Salisbury found itself at the centre of a major news story when Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a park bench in the city after being poisoned by Novichok.
The suspected Russian terrorist attack led to statements of solidarity from world leaders including President Macron, Chancellor Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The news generated thousands of newspaper headlines around the globe and an online search of the news still returns more than 300,000 results on Google alone.
Having unexpectedly become the centre of an international news story the people of Salisbury knew they needed to take the matter into their own hands to help tell Britain and the world about the city.
In the autumn of 2018, six months after the Novichok poisonings, leading organisations across Salisbury came together with a project jointly commissioned by Salisbury BID, Salisbury City Council and VisitWiltshire, with the support of the VisitBritain/Visit England ‘Discover England Fund’, Wiltshire Council and other local organisations.
This bold new partnership decided to respond to the challenges the city was facing by commissioning a project to help tell the city’s story better.
Salisbury’s reputation was in danger of being defined by six months of negative media commentary. It was agreed that Salisbury needed a clear and distinct message to cut through the negativity so that people could rediscover the history and spirit of Salisbury. The people of Salisbury also needed to work together – with a clear understanding of what the city needed to do to achieve its goals.
This comprehensive initiative led to the creation of a compelling new vision to re-imagine Salisbury as a medieval city for the 21st Century.
This vision was co-created with more than 1,000 Salisbury residents, visitors, stakeholders and potential Investors who shared their thoughts through an online survey. In addition, business owners and people from all walks of Salisbury life contributed to in-depth, one-to-one interviews. More than 150 people attended practical workshops to share their insights.
The project drew inspiration from the city’s rich heritage as a magnet for generations of traders, travellers and pilgrims seeking inspiration, farmers and fishermen bringing produce to market, artists and artisans laying out their wares.
What the project revealed was that at the heart of the Salisbury experience is a blend of tradition, imagination and individualism that makes our city stand out from the crowd. Salisbury is a city that respects tradition, celebrates originality and looks to the future.
This compelling combination of factors can be distilled into just two words: Traditional, Original.
Now is a great time to unveil this new messaging as the UK gradually recovers from the impact of Covid-19 and many people reappraise their values with a strong shift towards supporting local producers and independents.
There are also large numbers of people based in London and the South East looking for an alternative lifestyle and a new place to live in the aftermath of the pandemic. The phenomenal growth of ‘remote workers’ with far greater flexibility than before the pandemic, is making locations like Salisbury increasingly attractive, given the ease of access to London by train.
The aspiration now is for Salisbury to become a beacon of creativity and culture for the modern-day makers and innovators, a magnet for shoppers and sightseers, traders and travellers and a guiding light for all who value originality.
This summer provides a great opportunity for Salisbury to once again draw people from far and wide as a vibrant, outward-looking place where conversation and ideas flow. A range of initiatives will start to emerge across the summer months as the city starts to put the plan into action.
A brand-new website, Experience Salisbury, will complement this range of activities, packed with engaging content and things to do.
David Andrews CEO of Visit Wiltshire said ‘VisitWiltshire were pleased to collaborate and lead on the development of the Salisbury Traditional Original brand positioning. It provides an exciting platform from which to develop the visitor offer and is already enabling us to communicate a very clear message to local, regional, national and international visitors. As part of our Wiltshire tourism recovery marketing activity, in a highly competitive market Traditional Original helps set Salisbury apart from other destinations.
The Mayor of Salisbury, Cllr Caroline Corbin said “I am so pleased to see that the city I grew up in is being celebrated and promoted. All the leading organisations in the city have been working together to make sure visitors and our residents can get the most out of being in our city. Come and visit to enjoy our tradition of care, craft and creativity in our city events and activities”.
Robin McGowan- Chief Executive of Salisbury BID said “Traditional Original is about Salisbury coming together to carve out a new identity for the city after we were unexpectedly thrust into the global media spotlight after an international incident. The new brand will help Salisbury to move forward, to innovate, drive recovery, draw on our past and look forward to a bright future.
“From working in partnership with leading organisations and residents we have developed a strong platform to promote Salisbury. This will help us to showcase our excellent businesses and welcome back residents and visitors to a vibrant city centre this summer.”
Salisbury Cathedral Executive Director and Chapter Clerk, Jackie Molnar, who oversees the execution of Cathedral’s strategy, particularly in relation to visitors, said:
“Salisbury Cathedral and city have stood together for eight centuries. This bond has endured in the face of recent challenges and we’re glad to be working with partners right across our community to help Salisbury face the future with creativity, strength and confidence, born from our long history.”
Paul Henderson of Henderson’s Bakery said – “It’s been a challenging time for Salisbury businesses so it’s great to see everyone coming together to inject fresh energy and actively promote our great offer to both residents and visitors”.
Deborah Fox of Fisherton Mill said “‘It’s great to see the city celebrating the independent, unique and creative offerings that make us special”
Dave and Aimee Hancock Directors of Tinga and Caboose said “It’s great to see Salisbury showing real ambition and promoting the fantastic independent offering in the city”